Because night work is becoming more prevalent, we studied whether feeding at different times of a 24-h period would elicit different metabolic responses and whether dietary macronutrient composition would affect these responses. Seven men (26-43 y, 19.9-26.6 kg/m(2)) consumed two isocaloric diets, in a crossover design. The diets were a high carbohydrate (HC) diet [65 energy % (E%) carbohydrates, 20E% fat] and a high fat (HF) diet (40E% carbohydrates, 45E% fat). After a 6-d diet-adjustment period, the men were kept awake for 24 h and the food (continuation of respective diet) was provided as six isocaloric meals (i.e., every 4 h). Energy and substrate turnover, heart rate, mean arterial pressure (MAP), blood glucose, triacylglycerol (TAG), nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) and glycerol were measured throughout the 24-h period. Significantly higher energy expenditure and NEFA concentration, and lower blood glucose and TAG concentrations were observed when the men consumed the HF diet than when they consumed the HC diet. Significant circadian patterns were seen in body and skin temperature (nadir, 0400-0500 h). When the men consumed the HF diet, significant circadian patterns were seen in fat oxidation (nadir, 0800-1200 h; plateau, 1200-0800 h), heat release (nadir, 0800-1200 h; plateau, 1600-0800 h), heart rate (nadir, 0000 h), blood glucose (nadir, 0800-1200 h; peak, 0000-0400 h), NEFA (nadir, 0800-1200 h; peak, 1200-2000 h) and TAG (nadir, 0800-1200 h; peak, 0400-0800 h) concentrations. Energy expenditure, carbohydrate oxidation, MAP and glycerol concentration did not display circadian patterns. Unequal variances eradicated most circadian effects in the HC-diet data. The increased TAG concentration in response to feeding at 0400 h might be involved in the higher TAG concentrations seen in shift workers. Distinct macronutrient/circadian-dependent postprandial responses were seen in most studied variables.